Health Care — Biden presses Congress on COVID funding

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Bruce Willis’ family announced today he is “stepping away” from acting after being diagnosed with aphasia, a condition that affects a person’s ability to communicate.

Today we’ll look at the launch of a new website trying to improve access to COVID-19 resources as President BidenJoe BidenTrump says he’s uninterested in being Speaker if GOP retakes House Biden administration boosts support for antitrust efforts Energy & Environment — Oil companies rebuff House chairman MORE presses Congress to approve more pandemic funding.

For The Hill, we’re Peter Sullivan, Nathaniel Weixel and Joseph Choi. Send us tips and feedback at psullivan@thehill.com, nweixel@thehill.com and jchoi@thehill.com.

Let’s get started.

Biden amps up pressure to pass stalled COVID aid

President Biden on Wednesday called on lawmakers to authorize billions of dollars in pandemic relief funding that has stalled in Congress.

During a speech at the White House, Biden upped the pressure on lawmakers, warning that without continued funding, the US is at risk of backsliding just as the country is turning the corner on COVID-19.

“Just as we reached the critical turning point in this fight, Congress has to provide the funding America needs to continue to fight COVID-19,” Biden said. “This isn’t partisan. It’s medicine.”

A $1.5 trillion government funding bill signed into law earlier this month was going to include $15.6 billion in COVID-19 spending, but it was stripped out after a group of House Democrats objected to one of the offsets, namely using a portion of state aid from a previous relief bill.

Senate Republicans are not interested in setting aside any new funding, and progress has been stalled for weeks. Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerUS using Ukraine as cover to lock us into fossil fuels for years to come Lawmakers warn US could lose EV, AV race Shaheen says she has ‘agreement in principle’ with Collins on bill to lower insulin costs MORE (DN.Y.) and Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyGOP shoots down Thomas recusa as scrutiny grows Romney planning ‘a much deeper dive’ on Jackson after opposing her for appeals court Collins to have follow-up call with Ketanji Brown Jackson MORE (R-Utah) said they are making progress on a compromise deal to find acceptable offsets but have not made any timing promises.

Read more here.

White House launches ‘one-stop shop’ website

President Biden on Wednesday announced a new “one-stop shop” website to help Americans access COVID-19 vaccines, tests, treatments and masks as part of his administration’s continued efforts to fight the ongoing pandemic.

the website COVID.govalso allows those who visit it to find the level of COVID-19 in their communities.

One of the site’s features is a “test-to-treat” locator that helps people find pharmacies and community health centers where they can get tested. Biden announced the new test-to-treat initiative during his State of the Union address at the start of March and the administration says it has already stood up 2,000 of these sites.

“The bottom line: No longer will Americans have to scour the Internet to find vaccines, treatments, tests, or masks,” Biden said in remarks at the White House Wednesday.

“The Administration has worked over the past 14 months to set up over 90,000 vaccination sites, make more than 400 million high-quality masks available for free, send free tests to peoples’ homes, and stand up new test-to-treat sites where people can get tested and receive life-saving antivirals all in one place,” according to a White House fact sheet.

Read more here.

BIDEN BOOSTED X2

President Biden received his second COVID-19 booster shot on camera Wednesday afternoon, a day after it was authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for his age group.

Biden received the shot after delivering remarks about the fight against the pandemic. The dose of the Pfizer vaccine was administered by a member of the White House medical unit, the White House said.

“It didn’t hurt a bit,” Biden said after rolling up to receive the dose. Reporters peppered him with questions as he received the shot, though he ignored most of them.

The FDA on Tuesday authorized a second COVID-19 vaccine booster shot for those aged 50 and older. The agency said anyone in this age group can get a second booster dose of mRNA vaccine four months or more after receiving a first booster shot.

Biden, 79, similarly received his first booster dose of the Pfizer vaccine on camera at the end of September after it was authorized.

Read more here.

SECOND COVID BOOSTER NOW AVAILABLE AT WALGREENS, RITE AID

Walgreens and Rite Aid announced on Wednesday that Americans who qualify for a second COVID-19 booster will now be allowed to receive one at their stores.

Walgreens said that walk-in appointments will be offered from Wednesday through Friday of the current week and that appointment scheduling will be available, and preferred, beginning on Friday.

Rite Aid said that people can make an appointment or walk in to get their second dose if they are eligible starting on Wednesday.

“As we strive to reach a more manageable endemic state, it is critical for everyone to get up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters as they become eligible,” Kevin Ban, chief medical officer at Walgreens, said in a statement.

“With COVID-19 cases on the rise and vaccine immunity waning over time, older adults and those who are immunocompromised are at an increased risk for severe disease from COVID-19,” he noted.

Read more here.

House to vote Thursday on bill to cap cost of insulin

The House is expected to vote Thursday on legislation aimed at capping the price of insulin, Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerLawmakers warn US could lose EV, AV race Health Care — Biden budget preps for next pandemic This week: House set to vote on marijuana legalization bill MORE (D-Md.) announced.

Hoyer told reporters on Wednesday that it’s “inexcusable” people are being charged exorbitant prices for “a life-saving and life-sustaining drug whose costs [have] not increased and whose research costs have been amortized a very long period of time ago.”

House Democrats passed legislation in November as part of their Build Back Better package that would have allowed Medicare to negotiate lower prices for certain prescription drugs. But since that package remains stalled due to opposition from Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinEnergy & Environment — Oil companies rebuff House chairman Manchin shoots down Biden’s new billionaire tax plan US using Ukraine as cover to lock us into fossil fuels for years to come MORE (DW.Va.), Democrats are turning to more narrow measures that can pass both chambers.

The bill set for a House vote would cap consumers’ out-of-pocket costs for insulin at $35 per month. The measure is authored by three House Democrats facing competitive reelection races this fall: Reps. Angie CraigAngela (Angie) CraigFive things to know about the .5T spending bill Congress just passed House passes sweeping .5 trillion omnibus spending bill Minnesota court makes changes to House Democrat’s district MORE (min.), Dan KildeeDaniel (Dan) Timothy KildeeZelensky challenges conscience of Congress Democratic governors call for gas tax suspension Biden State of the Union: A plea for unity in unusual times MORE (me.) and Lucy McBathLucia (Lucy) Kay McBathTo prevail in midterms, Democratic donors should help unseat centrists who undermined Biden’s agenda Federal judge leaves Georgia map favoring Republicans in place for 2022 midterms Democrats press Education secretary over plans to resume student loan payments MORE (Ga.). There are no GOP co-sponsors.

Caveat: While it’s a bumper sticker politics bill, the legislation wouldn’t actually do anything to lower the price of insulin. It would save people money, but merely shifts the costs to insurers and employers, which increases premiums.

Across the Capitol, there are bipartisan discussions underway for a bill to lower the cost of insulin that could come up for a Senate vote in the coming weeks.

Read more here.

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • Hospitals, including some flush with cash, scramble to grab last scraps of federal Covid dollars (Stat)
  • Delays for autism diagnosis and treatment grew even longer during the pandemic (Kaiser Health News)
  • COVID disparities persist for Black Americans. But there are lessons for the future (NPR)

STATE BY STATE

OP EDS IN THE HILL

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s health care page for the latest news and coverage. See you Thursday.

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